May 7, 2014
FOOD FOR THE HUNGRY: Fifth grade students help load boxes for delivery to HomeFront in response to a food drive that challenged the entire Middle School of Princeton Day School. The school has a long-standing relationship with HomeFront.

FOOD FOR THE HUNGRY: Fifth grade students help load boxes for delivery to HomeFront in response to a food drive that challenged the entire Middle School of Princeton Day School. The school has a long-standing relationship with HomeFront.

When middle school students at Princeton Day School (PDS) heard of the need for food to feed the hungry at HomeFront, they rose to a challenge presented to them by the Head of Middle School Steve Hancock.

Knowing how competitive middle school students can be, Mr. Hancock announced the school’s involvement in Homefront’s Food Drive as a contest to see which grade could bring in the most food in one week. The challenge was thrown down at an all school assembly and, with a plan of action that included knowledge of which foods were in highest demand, each grade pursued their well-defined task.

“Through some of our parents at PDS, we learned of the desperate need for food at HomeFront,” said Sheila Goeke, middle school librarian and community service advisor to the fifth grade, which ultimately won the contest by bringing in the most food.

“The fifth grade collected corn and canned chili, the sixth grade brought in canned tomatoes and boxed macaroni and cheese, the seventh grade contributed canned mixed vegetables and pasta sauce, and eighth graders donated peanut butter and canned peas,” explained Ms. Goeke. “They collected boxes from HomeFront, filled them with foodstuffs donated from home and helped pack them to go.”

All told, eight big boxes were filled thanks to the students, their parents, and to teachers who also made donations and helped organize the event as a contribution to HomeFront’s March through April food drive.

“At Princeton Day School, we are always looking for ways to help our students connect to the community,” said Mr. Hancock. “We’ve had a long-standing relationship with HomeFront and when we heard there was a need for food, our families stepped forward to help.”

“I’m especially proud that the middle schoolers won,” said Ms. Goeke. “Kudos to them. They take a great deal of satisfaction from knowing they have made a difference and they felt very proud when they were collecting the boxes for HomeFront.”

According to HomeFront’s Sybil Jones, this year’s drive received a valuable boost from the PDS student effort. “They really rallied to the cause. More than anything else, it seems kids understand hunger; they can bring a can of soup or tuna and realize that this is making a difference to someone who is not as lucky as they are; such a simple thing to do, and that is what they have done,” she said.

Each week, HomeFront distributes over a thousand meals at its Family Preservation Center and provides 250 food bags to the homeless from its pantry. In addition, it provides 300 breakfasts and lunches at its Cherry Tree Club pre-school, 160 meals at its summer camps for homeless children, as well as 450 meals and snacks in its Joys, Homes, and Dreams children’s programs.

Since its inception some two decades ago, HomeFront has been attempting to “break the cycle of poverty” and homelessness in Central New Jersey. Its programs serve thousands of families and children in Mercer County.

According to its web site, “in the past year alone, almost 14,000 heads of households walked through our front door looking for help” and “on any given night, we provide emergency shelter, transitional housing, and permanent service-enriched housing to over 450 people, two-thirds of them children.”

The organization not only harnesses the good will of the community and students like those at PDS, it comes up with some inventive ways to raise money, including Mother’s Day requests in support of a fund for homeless mothers in Mercer County.

These particular contributions are designed to give homeless mothers a chance to do something special for their children that most families might take for granted, like provide a new baseball glove or pay for a school field trip or school pictures.

“A lot of our projects have to do with HomeFront,” said Ms. Goeke. This month will see the school’s fifth grade-sponsored “Books in a Bag” project, for which the PDS students will collect children’s books and pack then in special PDS bags. “Each family at HomeFront’s Family Preservation Center will receive a bag of wonderful children’s books to take with them when they leave to go to their new homes. When the bags are delivered, some fifth graders will spend an evening reading to preschoolers at the Center,” she said.

“HomeFront is truly grateful for their efforts, which I think are inspirational,” said Ms. Jones.

Donations to HomeFront can be made online. Canned foods and shelf-stable goods can be dropped off at HomeFront’s main office, 1880 Princeton Avenue, Lawrenceville. For more information, visit: HomeFrontNJ.org.

 

Saturday, May 17 is the day of the third annual Healthy Children Healthy Planet event at the Riverside School garden. The day celebrates school gardening and is designed to include families and the community.

This garden is all about teaching in authentic settings and using the outdoors to make curricula come alive. Teachers have found creative ways of using the space now that it exists. Children are free to pick, explore, and run around as long as they keep their feet out of beds.

The event is held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will include garden activities, yoga in the garden, arts and crafts, a plant sale, food, music, sustainability exhibits, and rescue vehicles. The suggested donation is $5 and proceeds benefit Riverside School garden programs.

Follow the event on www.facebook.com/riversideschoolgarden.

On Friday, May 30, from 6:30 to 10 p.m., EarthShare New Jersey celebrates its 20th Anniversary at Grounds for Sculpture located at 18 Fairgrounds Road in Hamilton, N.J.

The event features a photography exhibition showcasing New Jersey’s wildlife, landscapes, and waterways; eco-friendly auctions which include unique experiences such as wildlife releases and art work; tastings of beer, wine and specialty dishes served by chefs from across the state; and live jazz presented by Stringzville. Ed Lloyd and TerraCycle will be honored for their environmental accomplishments.

To purchase tickets, visit www.earthsharenj.org

HONORED FOR HIS SERVICE: Herman L. Brav, shown here with his wife Adele, will receive the French Legion of Honor award on Friday in a ceremony at West Point. Mr. Brav, a World War II veteran; and Mrs. Brav, a Holocaust survivor, live at Princeton’s Acorn Glen.

HONORED FOR HIS SERVICE: Herman L. Brav, shown here with his wife Adele, will receive the French Legion of Honor award on Friday in a ceremony at West Point. Mr. Brav, a World War II veteran; and Mrs. Brav, a Holocaust survivor, live at Princeton’s Acorn Glen.

A little over a year ago, Peter Brav read about an award that France bestows regularly on veterans of World War I and World War II. The French Legion of Honor, an order of distinction first established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, thanks those who risked their lives defending freedom.

Mr. Brav, a lawyer and Princeton resident whose parents call the Acorn Glen assisted living facility home, immediately thought of his father Herman L. Brav, who is 91 and had previously been awarded The Bronze Star Medal by the United States Army for his World War II service with the 69th Infantry. Though his father never talks much about his wartime experiences, Mr. Brav knew they were significant. He decided to look into the Legion of Honor award for his father.

“I applied for it, and they wrote back to say he was under consideration,” Mr. Brav said Monday. “Then a couple of weeks ago, we found out that he was getting the award. So my parents and my sister and I will go to West Point this Friday. It happens to be the 70th anniversary of D-Day, so it is really special.”

Born in Brooklyn in 1923, Herman Brav lost his father at age four and his twin brother at 12. “He became the sole supporter of his mother,” Peter Brav said. “When World War II broke out, he volunteered and was shipped off with the 69th infantry. He saw heavy combat.”

Mr. Brav and his company crossed the English Channel to Normandy. “They basically fought their way through France and Germany,” the younger Mr. Brav said. “The big day was when they hooked up at the Elbe River with the Russians. It was pretty much the victory. It signified that the European Theater was going to wind down.”

His father was not one to brag about his experiences. “He didn’t talk a lot about the war when we were young,” Mr. Brav said. “I knew he was awarded The Bronze Star, but he didn’t make a big deal about it, so I didn’t. What he does talk about now is his buddies, including those who were killed at his side. He has dementia, but he remembers that.”

After the war, Mr. Brav returned home. He met his wife, a Holocaust survivor, at a dance at The New Yorker Hotel. “She was one of the last groups of Jewish refugees to get out of Russia,” her son said. “She worked for Macy’s in New York and learned English.”

Mr. Brav’s father worked for the U.S. government before becoming a salesman for a company that manufactures doors and elevator cabs. He retired at 85. The family moved to Long Island in 1961. After Mrs. Brav had a stroke in 2010, the couple moved to Princeton to be near their family. In addition to Mr. Brav and his sister, who lives in Chicago, the couple have five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Mr. Brav said his father doesn’t always remember that the family is going to West Point this week to receive his award. But he knows he will be happy to receive the honor. “He doesn’t need this award, because he’s from a generation that did what it was supposed to do, that didn’t look for thanks. And he is no different,” his son said. “As a friend of mine said it’s a little recognition for the generation that sought no recognition. Because that’s how he is.”

 

Princeton University is listed among 55 institutions of higher education being investigated for possible violations of federal law over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints. The list was released last week by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

The investigations support efforts by the Obama administration to combat sexual assault on college campuses. On Wednesday, May 1, the administration released the first report of its White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.

The task force, which was set up in January, includes Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The 20-page report, titled “Not Alone,” cites a statistic from the National Institute of Justice that one in five women experience rape or attempted rape in college.

Stressing the need for more data on the subject, the report recommends that schools conduct systematic campus surveys to assess the prevalence of sexual assault as well as student attitudes toward it, or “campus climate.” The task force will be reporting again in 2016 and “will explore legislative or administrative options to require the schools to conduct a survey.”

The report emphasizes the importance of confidential advocates and calls for further training for those who deal with sexual violence on college campuses. It states: “Insensitive or judgmental comments, or questions that focus on a victim’s behavior (e.g., what she was wearing, prior sexual history) rather than on the alleged perpetrator’s, can compound a victim’s distress.” The report can be viewed at www.NotAlone.gov, a new government website, also unveiled last week, calling attention to the problem of sexual violence at institutions of higher learning.

Vice President Joe Biden said officials at colleges and universities, even if they fear their schools’ reputations may be damaged, “can no longer turn a blind eye and pretend rape and sexual assault don’t occur on their campuses.”

“Colleges and universities need to face the fact of what exists on their campuses,” said Mr. Biden. “They need to step up to it.”

According to the report, the NotAlone.gov website would be an information source that would “give students a clear explanation of their rights,” as well as “a simple description of how to file a complaint” with federal authorities.

Besides Princeton, the list of schools being investigated includes Boston University, Harvard College and Harvard University Law School in Massachusetts; Dartmouth College in New Hampshire; CUNY Hunter College, Sarah Lawrence College and SUNY at Binghamton in New York; as well as Pennsylvania State University, Swarthmore College and Temple University in Pennsylvania.

The list, dated May 1, 2014, will be updated regularly and can be viewed online: www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-releases-list-higher-education-institutions-open-title-i.

Investigating Princeton

Princeton is the only New Jersey institution included on the OCR list. The Department of Education will not disclose any case-specific facts or details about the schools under investigation.

In Princeton’s case, the investigation began in 2010, said University spokesperson Martin Mbugua in response to a request for comment Monday.

By email, Mr. Mbugua quoted Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon at the time the list was announced, who said that “a college or university’s appearance on this list and being the subject of a Title IX investigation in no way indicates at this stage that the college or university is violating or has violated the law.”

“We are making this list available in an effort to bring more transparency to our enforcement work and to foster better public awareness of civil rights,” said Ms. Lhamon. “We hope this increased transparency will spur community dialogue about this important issue.”

Mr. Mbugua said that the University is aware of the investigation and will continue to cooperate with the Office for Civil Rights.

In 2011, the Obama administration said that under Title IX schools had to address sexual violence in order to provide equal access to education. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.

The primary goal of a Title IX investigation is to ensure that a campus is in compliance with federal law. All colleges, universities, and K-12 schools receiving federal funds must comply with Title IX. Schools that violate the law and refuse to address the problems can lose federal funding or be referred to the U.S. Department of Justice for further action.

Under federal law, sexual violence refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual abuse, and sexual coercion.

The OCR’s list is the first comprehensive look at which campuses are under review by the DOE for possible violations of the law’s requirements regarding sexual violence.

Campus Procedures

In recent years, questions have been raised about Princeton University’s response to sexual assaults on campus.

Last May, Princeton University’s Department of Public Safety and the newly consolidated Princeton Police Department put an updated agreement in place that clarifies who does what. The agreement defines operating procedures and includes details of police response strategies and protocols. As such, it was not released to the public. Then Princeton Police Captain Nick Sutter, now Chief Sutter, said: “It contains privileged information that if released could endanger the public and officers.”

Prior to consolidation, the University’s statistics were included in the former Borough and Township crime reports. Post consolidation and subsequent to the above-mentioned agreement, the University’s Department of Public Safety submits its own Uniform Crime Report statistics to the State Police responsible for collecting such data.

 

A suspect attempting to break in to a residence on Randall Road has been arrested by the Princeton Police Department. The suspect is being looked at in connection with other home break-ins in Princeton over the last two months.

Kenneth Nwachukwu, 19, of Juniper Row was charged with criminal trespass and attempted burglary after being apprehended following a call to the Police Department from a Randall Road neighbor reporting suspicious behavior.

Upon receiving notification, Patrolman Judd Petrone arrived at Randall Road and determined that Mr. Nwachukwu had attempted to enter the home. The officer placed the suspect under arrest at the scene. Mr. Nwachukwu was taken to Mercer County Corrections Center in Hopewell when he could not post $25,000 bail.

Last month, Town Topics reported that the Princeton Police Department was working with other area police departments with respect to a “rash” of daytime residential burglaries that had occurred in Princeton homes unoccupied at the time of the break-ins. After the arrest of two Ewing men by West Windsor police on March 25, Princeton police looked for a connection to burglaries in Princeton. Stolen property found in the home of one of the suspects was examined to see if any of it had come from the Princeton break-ins.

Interviewed Friday, Detective Sergeant Chris Quaste, in charge of the Princeton burglaries investigation, said that “there was no reason to believe that they [the two Ewing suspects] were tied to Princeton.”

“We looked into it and found that none of the stolen property found in the home of one of the suspects had any connection to the burglaries in Princeton,” he said.

Of the ongoing investigation into burglaries in Princeton and the arrest of Mr. Nwachukwu, Mr. Quaste commented that the suspect faces a second count of criminal trespass stemming from a burglary investigation in the 200 block of Stuart Road. “We believe this person is possibly responsible for some of the other burglaries, but as yet the investigation is ongoing,” said Mr. Quaste, who was unable to comment further.

The detective, a 26-year veteran of Princeton Police, went on to praise the vigilance of the neighbor who called the police.

“This arrest was made because a resident called us. Residents are our eyes and ears and we are always grateful when we get a call like this, resulting in an arrest,” he said.

To Foil a Burglar

Mr. Quaste reminds Princeton residents of the following anti-burglary tips:

• Call immediately to report any suspicious vehicle(s) and/or person(s) in your neighborhood. If possible, get a description of any suspicious person or vehicle (including a license plate) and the direction of travel, so as to advise responding officers.

• Notify the police immediately of any unknown person knocking on the front door. Be aware that knocking is a means to determine whether or not a house is occupied. Potential burglars might say that they are looking for someone or for a particular street, even for a lost pet. They might pretend to be a door-to-door salesman. If there is no answer to their knock, they will generally walk to the back of the house and use unlocked doors/windows to gain entry. If none are found, windows and doors have been forced open. Jewelry and silver are generally targeted.

• Report any suspicious activity immediately to your local police department, or in the event of an emergency for an incident in progress, call 9-1-1.

The Princeton Police Department also suggests that residents have digital photographs of their valuables as a way of helping the police in their attempts to recover stolen property. Practices that often prevent homes being targeted at least during daytime are the turning on of any alarm systems, and showing signs of occupation such as a car parked in the driveway, or a radio or TV left on inside the home.

 

Despite a few debates over semantics at a work session on code review Monday night, Princeton Council was able to introduce several ordinances and begin discussion of some others that need to be “harmonized” to reflect the consolidation of the former Borough and Township. A public hearing on several of these ordinances will be held as part of the Council’s meeting on Tuesday, May 27.

During a discussion of the ordinance for the Princeton Environmental Commission (PEC), chairman Matt Wasserman noted that the commission’s work might be compromised by restrictive wording of the document. The governing body opted to go back to the town’s handbook on boards and commissions before taking a vote.

An ordinance concerning landscaping registration was also discussed, with PEC member Heidi Fichtenbaum telling Council the commission would like to add wording that would provide some sort of “lunch and learn” educational sessions for landscapers who registered with the town. The sessions would encourage environmentally friendly practices. Both Mayor Liz Lempert and Council member Jo Butler said they liked the idea but weren’t sure it needed to be ordinanced.

Ms. Fichtenbaum favored making registration of landscapers mandatory in order to encourage preservation of the environment. “I can’t speak strongly enough about this. We are not making progress on these issues fast enough,” she said. “Every little piece is important. Every single citizen of this planet needs to draw a line in the sand and be committed to this because we will not survive if we don’t.”

The Council voted to introduce the ordinance. Assistant Princeton Attorney Lisa M. Maddox said she will look into whether it is legal to make registration mandatory.

Among the ordinances that were introduced were those concerning issuance of a certificate of compliance for rental units; general provisions; administration; parades; pay-to-play regulations and campaign contributions; municipal court; peddling and soliciting; and Corner House. Each of these was discussed at length at the Council’s previous meeting.

 

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A closer look at Nassau Hall with Princeton in bloom on all sides. When the building first opened its doors on November 28, 1756, Princeton University was the College of New Jersey, Aaron Burr was its president, and the student body numbered 70. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

April 30, 2014
ABSTRACTION OF THE MIND: A talk by artist Andrew Werth is one of two fundraising events coming up in May at the West Windsor Arts Council. Mr. Werth will discuss his combined love for art and science on May 18, at 6 p.m. A donation of $20 is suggested; a donation of $100 will include an 18 x 15 digital reproduction of the artist’s work such as his piece, “Realization,” shown here (while supplies last). The West Windsor Arts Center is located at 952 Alexander Road, Princeton Junction, NJ 08550. For more information, visit www.westwindsorarts.org or call (609) 716-1931.

ABSTRACTION OF THE MIND: A talk by artist Andrew Werth is one of two fundraising events coming up in May at the West Windsor Arts Council. Mr. Werth will discuss his combined love for art and science on May 18, at 6 p.m. A donation of $20 is suggested; a donation of $100 will include an 18 x 15 digital reproduction of the artist’s work such as his piece, “Realization,” shown here (while supplies last). The West Windsor Arts Center is located at 952 Alexander Road, Princeton Junction, NJ 08550. For more information, visit www.westwindsorarts.org or call (609) 716-1931.

An anonymous West Windsor resident and West Windsor Arts Council supporter has agreed to match tax-deductible contributions to the Council’s annual fund up to $10,000.

All contributions must be received by June 30, 2014 and the money will be used to help pay teaching artists who live within our communities, create an internship program, and support staffing and operations.

The Arts Council has planned two events to help reach its goal: an annual Mother’s Day Plant and Herb Sale on Saturday, May 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and an adventure in philosophy and the science of the mind, led by West Windsor artist, Andrew Werth on Sunday May 18, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

The May 10 plant sale will feature fragrant herbs, colorful hanging baskets, and flowering bushes. All sales will support the West Windsor Arts Council Annual Fund and will be matched by the anonymous donor. Cash, checks and credit cards accepted.

Mr. Werth’s talk on May 18, is titled “An Abstraction of the Mind: Artist Talk with Andrew Werth.” He will discuss color theory and perception, meaning in abstract art, pattern formation in nature and on the computer, and how all of these things combine with his love of cognitive science, philosophy, math, and physics in the creation of his paintings. Refreshments will be provided.

Admission to Mr. Werth’s talk is free with a suggested donation of $20 accepted at the door. A donation of $100 will include an 18 x 15 digital reproduction of the artists work (while supplies last).

Mr. Werth received degrees in computer engineering and information networking from Carnegie Mellon University and has studied art at various schools in New York City including The Arts Students League, The School of Visual Arts, and The New School. His paintings have been exhibited at many tristate venues from Philadelphia through Hudson, N.Y. For more information about the artist, visit: www.andrewwerth.com.

The West Windsor Arts Center is located at 952 Alexander Road, Princeton Junction, NJ 08550. For more information, visit www.westwindsorarts.org or call (609) 716-1931.

 

Princeton will see several event related road closures this weekend.

On Saturday, May 3, The Stuart School will host a 5k race on roadways around the school. As a result, the following streets will be closed beginning at 8 a.m. until the race ends, approximately 45 to 60 minutes later: Stuart Road between Great Road East and Bouvant Drive; Bouvant Drive between Cherry Hill Road and Stuart Road; and the entire length of White Oak Road.

Local residents will be allowed access to and egress from homes in the race area at the discretion of officers and race officials, with the safety of the race participants being paramount.

Also on Saturday, May 3 at 7 p.m., the Princeton Fire Department will begin its 129th annual inspection parade at the corner of Chestnut and Nassau streets. The parade will proceed down Nassau to the plaza in front of Monument Hall, where the department will issue its annual service awards.

The following road closures are necessitated for the parade: Chestnut Street between Nassau and Spruce Streets, from 6:30 p.m.; Nassau Street between Chestnut Street and Monument Hall, from 7 p.m. During the parade, all intersections on Nassau along the route will be closed and will be re-opened as is practical as the parade passes by, with primary consideration to the safety of participants and onlookers.

In addition, no parking will be permitted on the south side of Stockton Street between Bayard Lane and Library Place during the event. Emergency ‘No Parking’ signs will be posted in the area. The designated detour is Hamilton Avenue/Wiggins Street/Paul Robeson Place with the aid of signs, barricades and officers posted to assist with the flow of traffic.

Cyclovia

On Sunday, May 4, beginning at 12:30 p.m., Quaker Road will be closed between Mercer Street and Nassau Park Boulevard to facilitate the Cyclovia cycling event. Traditional methods of road closure will apply in the form of gates and signage that are permanently posted in the area. The designated detour will be Province Line Road to Mercer Street until the event ends at 4:30 p.m., at which time the roads will reopen to all traffic. For more information on the event designed for bicyclists, walkers, runners, skaters and other wheelers, visit: www.princetonnj.gov/bicycle.htmlbicycle.html.

Road Works

On or about May 5, the repair and resurfacing of Mercer Road between Province Line Road and Quaker Road will begin. The first part of the project, which will involve the milling, repair and repaving of the road surface, is scheduled to commence between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. and is expected to take approximately 10 to 14 days.

The second phase of the project will begin upon completion of the first phase and will involve the milling, repair and resurfacing of Quaker Road between Mercer Road and the Port Mercer area, also between the hours of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The second phase of the project is expected to take approximately 3 to 4 weeks, during which time roads will be open to traffic during non-scheduled work hours. Route 206 will be the designated detour for the duration of the project, and signage will be posted to that end. Variable message boards have been posted in the area to alert motorists of the upcoming project.

 

MORVEN IN MAY: As part of its annual celebration of art, craft, and garden, Morven Museum will hold its Heirloom Plant Sale this weekend alongside its arts and crafts show. Morven in May is the place to find those plants uncommon in modern nurseries: traditional flowers, peonies, and scented annuals and vines. Besides plants, of course, there will be all sorts of artful delights for visits under the big tents on the lawn where 25 professional artists and artisans will offer their original pieces for sale. For tickets to the preview on Friday evening and more information, call (609) 924-8144, or visit: www.morven.org.

MORVEN IN MAY: As part of its annual celebration of art, craft, and garden, Morven Museum will hold its Heirloom Plant Sale this weekend alongside its arts and crafts show. Morven in May is the place to find those plants uncommon in modern nurseries: traditional flowers, peonies, and scented annuals and vines. Besides plants, of course, there will be all sorts of artful delights for visits under the big tents on the lawn where 25 professional artists and artisans will offer their original pieces for sale. For tickets to the preview on Friday evening and more information, call (609) 924-8144, or visit: www.morven.org.

Artists and crafters often feel impelled to create. Barry Newstat is a case in point. From early childhood he has been losing himself in the art of making things. “I can’t not make things,” said the now accomplished furniture maker and woodworker who will be bringing six of his pieces from the Chicago suburb of Western Springs to Princeton this weekend for the annual celebration of art, craft, and garden that is Morven in May.

After hearing about “Morven in May: A Celebration of Art, Craft and Garden” from Morven Director of Development Barbara Webb last year when she visited his booth at the Philadelphia Art Museum Craft Show, Mr. Newstat jumped at the chance to participate in what he described as a small, high quality, boutique show. Mr. Newstat won the Wharton Eshrick Prize for Best of Show in woodworking in Philadelphia and is one of 25 professional fine craft artists from around the country selected to take part in Morven’s juried show; and one of several participating for the first time.

In past years the show was by invitation only but this year the organizers used Juried Art Services (www.juriedartservices.com), the online service employed by the Smithsonian Craft Show and the American Craft Council to help whittle down potential participants from the 115 who applied.

James C. Steward, director of the Princeton University Art Museum; art auctioneer David Rago, and Veronica C. Roberts, curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Blanton Art Museum at the University of Texas were the jurors.

“We’re very excited about this year’s show,” commented Ms. Webb, on what has become an anticipated spring ritual in Princeton. “Morven in May is an art and garden lover’s delight and some of our the artists taking part this year come from as far as Chicago and Portland, Maine.”

Budding Furniture Maker

The first time Barry Newstat worked with wood, making a bowl from Honduras mahogany on a lathe in junior high, “it was a joyful experience.” Seeing his son’s excitement, the boy’s father bought him a lathe and together they began buying small pieces of wood from around the world. “In a way, Barry Newstat Furniture began back then when I was 12,” said the artist who began his furniture business in 1987.

Using unique lumber and traditional joinery, he crafts chairs, table that have become more abstract over the years. Recently he’s introduced “live” edges to his work. But always, he is guided by three principles. Each piece must be sculptural, decorative, and functional. The six items he will have at Morven are two cabinets, two side tables, and two small round tables. One of the cabinets is his newest piece. Also displayed at the recent Smithsonian Craft Show, it can be viewed on his website: www.barrynewstatfurniture.com.

Besides Mr. Newstat, those participating for the first time are basket maker Kari Lonning from Ridgefield, Connecticut; the Cylinders from Oley, Pennsylvania; and Ms. Falls from Hartland, Vermont.

Ms. Lonning’s work is in several museum collections and can be viewed on her website: www.karilonning.com.

The Cylinders found their way to Princeton through word of mouth recommendations from fellow artists in New England. “One person told us about ‘this little gem of a show in Princeton, New Jersey,’ and then then someone else told us how wonderfully well it was organized and how much care goes into putting it together.”

The Cylinders, who have been working together for 26 years, will be bringing their biggest piece to the event. Titled Unfolding Moment, it’s a huge Cubist-style necklace that took them four months to make and uses all sorts of materials including resurfaced saxophone keys. The couple fashion unique pieces from simple brooches and rings to show-stopping creations that take months to complete. They incorporate found objects reclaimed from musical instruments with inspiration from Lalique, Spratling/Los Castillo, Jensen and Ken Cory, and other hand-craftsmen.

According to their website (www.lisaandscottcylinder.com), “they take a no-holds-barred attitude about materials and techniques.” Their work is sure to elicit a smile.

Also a first time participant, Deborah Falls was drawn to the show by the feeling that the preponderance of botanicals in her paintings would be a good fit. The artist, who has experience in textile design, paints with colored dyes on hand-woven Indian Dupioni silk. Self-taught in this medium, she is inspired by her own garden.

For her flower-inspired work, Ms. Falls uses fiber reactive dyes that are imported from a small company in France and specially formulated for silk. “Rather than paint on the surface of the fabric, the color becomes part of the fiber with which it chemically bonds,” she explained.

The work of these professional artists and artisans will be on display alongside masterful pieces in glass, ceramics, mixed media, and decorative and wearable fiber. All will be offered for sale in gallery-style booths under an enormous tent on the Museum’s great lawn.

Friends of Morven can preview the sale (and get a 10 percent discount on purchases) on Friday, May 2, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Public hours are Saturday May 3, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, May 4, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“Morven in May: A Celebration of Art, Craft and Garden,” begins Friday May 2 with a Preview Garden Party, from 6:30 to 9 p.m.; tickets, which must be purchased in advance, are available on Morven’s website or by calling (609) 924-8144 ext.113. Tickets range from $125.

The show then opens to the general public on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets for the Saturday and Sunday Art Tent are available at the door and are $10 per person, $8 for Friends of Morven.

All proceeds help fund the museum’s collections and exhibitions, historic gardens, and educational programs. Morven Museum & Garden is at 55 Stockton Street. For more information, call (609) 924-8144, or visit: www.morven.org.

 

The Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee will host the first annual Princeton Ciclovia on Sunday, May 4, from 1-4 p.m. on Quaker Road in Princeton. The Ciclovia, which is a Spanish term that means “cycleway,” will open the road to community use for participants to walk, push strollers, skate, run, bike, use wheelchairs and walkers, rollerblade, dance, and use the road in creative and active ways. Leashed dogs are also welcome to walk or run. Quaker Road will be closed to automobile traffic.

Sponsored with the support of the town of Princeton, the Princeton Police Department, West Windsor Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance, East Coast Greenway, Greater Mercer TMA, Historical Society of Princeton, Princeton Friends Meeting, Princeton Friends School, Princeton Battlefield Society, Boys and Girls Club of Trenton and Mercer County Bike Exchange, Princeton Freewheelers, D&R Canal Watch, and Sustainable Princeton, this free event is designed to promote active living for the community and to increase the awareness of biking, walking, and other non-motorized forms of transportation.

A Ciclovia has no start or finish line; it is not a race. Between 1 and 4 p.m. on May 4, participants can join the Ciclovia where convenient and can ride, walk, skate, etc., in either direction. Participants are encouraged to walk, run or ride to Quaker Road. An easy paced ride will be led from Princeton Shopping Center at 12:15 p.m.

Cyclists can also park and ride the tow path from any D&R Canal parking area. If riding or walking from the Institute Woods, take the Trolley Track Trail or the Pipeline Trail to Princeton Friends Meeting. If arriving via Mercer Road, there is an access path from the Princeton Battlefield parking area that leads to Friends Meeting. Parking will be available in the parking lot of the Friends School at the corner of Mercer Road and Quaker Road in Princeton and in the ‘Babies ‘R Us’ parking lot at the Nassau Park shopping center in West Windsor.

The Princeton Historical Society’s Updike Farm will provide a backdrop for a variety of activities including swing dancing demonstrations and fitness activities. The Updike Farm will be open for tours throughout the afternoon. The D&R Canal Watch will offer two guided walks. At 1:30 p.m, Ted Chase will lead a Bird Walk and at 3 p.m. Doug McCray will lead a History Walk. Both guided walks will step off from the D&R Canal parking lot near Port Mercer and each will take about 30 minutes. At 2:15 p.m, Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert and other officials will welcome participants at the Updike Farm.

A worldwide movement, with activities throughout the United States as well as Australia, New Zealand and Canada, Ciclovias originated in Bogota, Columbia and are popular in Latin America. A Ciclovia is designed to enhance community engagement and expand the concept of vehicle-free public spaces while encouraging people of all ages and abilities to be physically active. The Princeton Ciclovia will take place rain or shine.

Is Communiversity growing too big for Princeton? Is its scheduling this year on a Sunday part of a trend to have events on what was once a “day of rest” and churchgoing?

These were the questions hovering over a brief discussion of the annual free Town and Gown arts festival, which attracted between 35,000 and 40,000 residents and visitors to downtown Princeton on Sunday, April 27.

The discussion was initiated by former Mayor Jim Floyd when he spoke during the public comment period of Monday’s Princeton Council meeting. “Yesterday was a nightmare,” he said, referring to Communiversity’s impact on members of the African American community intent on attending church Sunday. “Our church members had no place to park,” he said, referring to one of the four black churches serving the Witherspoon/Jackson neighborhood. “I want to know who is responsible for deciding when Communiversity takes place,” said Mr. Floyd.

Mayor Liz Lempert explained that the event was a collaboration between the Arts Council of Princeton (ACP), Princeton University and the municipality. “I know that,” said Mr. Floyd. “What I want to know is, who is responsible for approving the date; who has the ultimate power to set the date for Communiversity?”

Ms. Lempert described a decision process involving the ACP, the University and the municipality that takes into account inconveniences to merchants if a Saturday is chosen for the event and to churches if a Sunday is chosen.

Town Administrator Bob Bruschi weighed in with remarks that the municipality provided policing and that there were ways in which it could exercise authority over the event but that this was not the way things were usually done.

Councilwoman Jenny Crumiller conceded that the Council had the ultimate power as regards the date. Describing the event, with respect to parking, as “worse this year and might even be worse next year,” she suggested that the municipality should hear from the organizers of next year’s event earlier in the year.

Council President Bernie Miller noted that Communiversity was not the only event taking place last Sunday. An afternoon performance at McCarter had contributed to traffic problems. “Careful consideration must be given before we approve the next event,” he said, adding that it was a “grand event” but that it had the potential to “turn into a nightmare.”

Councilman Lance Liverman asked whether there was a trend developing to have events on Sundays. He, too, reported that several people he knew of had been unable to attend church that day because of parking problems associated with the influx of crowds to Princeton.

Councilwoman Jo Butler asked if it might be possible to cordon off parking spaces for the sole use of churchgoers, if the event was to be held on a Sunday. “Yes, we could do that,” said Mr. Bruschi, “but we must recognize that this is a popular event spearheaded by lots of non-profits that are growing in size every year.”

Noting that the municipality and the University had formed an agreement (see page 1 story) that included the gift of a parking lot on Franklin Street, Mr. Floyd suggested that this might be made available to a community that had been significantly inconvenienced.

 

The town of Princeton and Princeton University have produced a seven year agreement under which the University will make voluntary unrestricted financial contributions to the municipality totaling $21.72 million, as well as one-time contributions valued at $2.59 million to several identified municipal projects.

The agreement was voted on at Monday’s public meeting after brief discussion and public comment. Mayor Lempert and Councilwoman Heather Howard recused themselves from the discussion and vote because of a conflict of interest; both of their spouses are employed by Princeton University.

Council President Bernie Miller summarized the agreement and the process by which it had been achieved since last fall. He described it as “unique” and “groundbreaking” for three reasons: it is for seven years; contributions increase annually; and the University will make one-time contributions to projects that were agreed to be of mutual benefit to the University and the town.

In a press release from the University last week, Mr. Miller described the seven year duration as important for “fiscal stability.” The annual amounts paid by the University will increase at a rate greater than permitted for the municipal property tax under New Jersey State law. In addition, the University has agreed to donate to the municipality for its use the University-owned parking lot on Franklin Street that has been valued in the range of $1 million.

In the same press release, Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber is quoted: “We are very pleased to be able to make these contributions to the town of Princeton, and in doing so to reaffirm both our desire to help sustain the vitality and well-being of our home community and our deep appreciation for the many aspirations and interests we share.”

At Monday’s meeting, Mr. Miller went on to thank Mr. Eisgruber, who participated in the initial town/gown meeting last fall, for setting a positive tone for the negotiations that recognized the interests of both the University and the municipality in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

He gave special thanks to the town’s administrator Bob Bruschi and Councilman Patrick Simon, who served with him on the negotiating team and he thanked Council members Jo Butler, Jenny Crumiller and Lance Liverman for their input.

“It will serve Princeton well and be a model for other towns where town and gown share common goals,” Mr. Miller  said after listing highlights that include the following:

In calendar year 2014 the University’s voluntary unrestricted contribution will be $2.75 million, an increase of more than 10 percent over its 2013 contribution; in each subsequent year through 2020, the University will increase its contribution by 4 percent per year; in 2014 the University will contribute an additional $90,000 for the purchase of a new Free-B vehicle.

Over the course of the agreement, the University will also make the following one-time contributions: $250,000 toward construction of a new storage facility for the town’s Department of Public Works equipment; $500,000 toward construction of a new Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad facility on municipal land; $250,000 toward the expansion of the Witherspoon Fire Station (in addition to $300,000 already committed to this project under a prior agreement); and $500,000 toward the purchase of fire-fighting apparatus.

Patrick Simon expressed his pleasure at the agreement and for having “turned a page” in the relationship between the municipality and the University. He thanked Council members Lance Liverman, Jenny Crumiller, and Jo Butler, who met regularly with the municipal negotiators, and volunteer Brad Middlekauff for invaluable assistance.

University representatives Robert Durkee, vice president and secretary, and Kristen Appelget, director of community and regional affairs, who were at the meeting, were praised for their efforts; both had worked on the agreement.

Public Comment

Several members of the public, including Mary Clurman, Kip Cherry and Paul Driscoll, rose in public comment to question the amount that the University has committed to the town.

In 2011, a group of local residents sued the University on the grounds that it should pay property taxes on nearly 20 buildings not directly related to classroom or educational activities, such as Princeton University Press, Alexander Hall, Prospect House, Dillon Gym and Stephens fitness center, McCarter Theatre, the Frist Center, and McCosh Infirmary.

“They [the University] should be paying more, given the amount of property they own and the percentage they are contributing to the town’s budget,” said Ms. Cherry. She then went on to question the contributions promised by the University to projects that have not yet been discussed or approved by the citizens of Princeton. “These are projects that the town hasn’t decided upon and yet they appear on the budget.”

Mr. Bruschi replied that the funds could go to other projects, a point reiterated by Mr. Miller who explained the projects as candidates for funding by the University; projects that would be of mutual benefit to both. “If any or all of these projects do not come about we can sit down again with the University and discuss others, and if this or a future council changes plans, we can work with the University to redirect the funds.”

But Ms. Cherry was not sufficiently assured. Ms. Butler commented that while she understood Ms. Cherry’s concerns, it was important to find projects of mutual interest.

It was pointed out that in addition to the contributions described in the agreement, the University makes additional voluntary contributions each year through a longstanding practice of leaving certain properties, such as non-dormitory graduate student housing, on the tax rolls even though they could qualify for exemption from property taxes under New Jersey law.

According to the new agreement, the University intends to continue this practice and that if the practice is modified, it will make additional voluntary payments to the municipality and the schools at the levels they would have received if the properties had remained on the tax rolls.

The University’s property taxes are expected to increase significantly in future years with the completion of its Lakeside graduate student housing and Merwick/Stanworth faculty/staff housing projects.

Following Ms. Cherry’s remarks, Mr. Driscoll expressed his dissatisfaction with the transparency of decision-making in the town. From the public’s perspective, he said: “it feels like powerful groups in the University come in and trump our needs. No matter how many times we come in and talk, we feel powerless.” There was no response to his comment from members of Council.

Mr. Durkee was then invited to speak. Addressing the council, he said: “We appreciate the opportunity to provide the community an unrestricted contribution which you decide how to spend and to provide funding for projects that you have described.” He endorsed Mr. Miller’s earlier remark that the agreement represents an effective model for other university towns on how to work together.

The agreement, which can be viewed on the University’s website www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S39/83/46G77/index.xml) passed unanimously.

 

When he was 12, Paul Sigmund won the Philadelphia auditions for Quiz Kids radio show. Despite this distinction, after which he traveled to Chicago to compete with similarly gifted children from around the country, the young Mr. Sigmund never made his five younger siblings feel he was in any way superior. Mr. Sigmund died Sunday at the age of 85 (see accompanying obituary).

“In spite of his tremendous scholastic achievements, Paul didn’t have any sense of being above everybody,” said his brother Peter Sigmund, on Monday. It is a description echoed by family members, friends, and colleagues of Mr. Sigmund, who began teaching at Princeton University in 1963 and helped found the school’s program in Latin American Studies.

“What impressed me was that he had the finest mind of anyone I’ve ever known, but he never talked down to people,” said Stephen Sigmund, one of Mr. Sigmund’s three sons. “I think that’s something his students always found, and they benefitted from that.”

Author and journalist Cokie Roberts, the sister of Mr. Sigmund’s late wife Barbara Boggs Sigmund, described him as “never overbearing, and a wonderful teacher in both his life and his work.” Barbara Sigmund was the mayor of Princeton Borough from 1983 until her death in 1990.

Anne Reeves of Princeton described Mr. Sigmund as “a very, very dear friend for a very long time. He was a treasure, a fine, modest human being. He was always there for you, always had a good suggestion. And certainly, he was very brilliant.”

Princeton University’s Program in Law and Public Affairs issued a statement calling Mr. Sigmund “a great scholar, favorite teacher, and generous colleague.” Mr. Sigmund attended and contributed to the bi-weekly seminars of the program.

“Moreover, he had a reserved seat at almost all of LAPA’s public events,” the statement reads.К“He willingly agreed to be a guest each year at an LAPA Fellows’ lunch, sharing his incredible knowledge of and personal experiences in Latin America.КPaul welcomed inquiries from Fellows who sought his wisdom on so many subjects.КHe was beloved by generations of students who looked for questions that would afford them the opportunity to meet with him.КPaul’s interests were rich and deep, and even included sharing with us his concerns about the New Orleans Saints football team, no doubt an interest inherited from his late wife’s family.”

Leslie Gerwin, associate director of the program, who co-wrote the statement with LAPA acting director Paul Frymer, elaborated on Tuesday. “I never met anyone who had met Paul who wasn’t influenced by him in a very positive way,” she said. “He had such wide interests. He was both a scholar and a participant in life.”

Steve Sigmund said his father, a longtime resident of Princeton, was devoted to the town. “Princeton was so meaningful to him because he was a teacher throughout his life more than anything else, and this was a warm and welcoming community to him,” he said. “He was so grateful that he could teach to and learn from so many generations of Princeton students. After my mother died, he had a supportive intellectual community to help him.”

“He listened when you talked to him,” said Peter Sigmund of the brother 14 years his senior “He was a really good brother and a very good family person with a wonderful sense of humor. He was always the leader.”

 

A clarification of overnight parking regulations and approval of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad (PFARS) were among the items of note during Princeton Council’s lengthy meeting Monday night. Also on the packed agenda were a budget discussion, and a unanimous vote approving the agreement between the town and Princeton University regarding the schools’ voluntary contribution in lieu of taxes (see accompanying story).

Contrary to information released last week, Princeton Police Lieutenant Robert Currier told Council members that residents of Princeton who have occasional overnight guests can have them park on streets if they call police ahead of time. Mr. Currier outlined the plan  after Councilwoman Heather Howard asked him to explain whether the policy was new or already existing.

There was some confusion among residents after police announced last week that prohibitions of overnight parking would be enforced until the previous ordinances for the former Borough and Township are harmonized. Some complained that those who lived in homes that either have small driveways or no driveways at all would have no place for guests to park.

“We actually do not have a new policy,” said Mr. Currier, who called the plan a work in progress. “We are kind of going off the old Borough policy for Borough streets. We recently noticed that permissions for overnight parking were becoming more and more numerous, with some nights over 40 requests. It was a lot for communications officers to keep up with. It diminishes the number of permit holders that actually do go out and get a permit.”

Chief Nicholas Sutter decided that the policy “could get tightened up a bit,” Mr. Currier continued. “He put out the word that a change was coming, and to put out a notice about a grace period so residents could prepare. Because there might be some different things that happen.”

Ms. Howard said the policy is not a drastic change, and that the town will monitor the situation.

Council’s vote to approve PFARS’ plan for a new headquarters, replacing their cramped facility on Harrison Street, gives the organization the green light to begin fundraising. The new building would be at the site of Princeton’s old public works facility at the intersection of Valley Road, Witherspoon Street and Route 206.

The agreement with Council is a land swap, in which PFARS has a long-term land lease on the former public works site, which the town would continue to own. In turn, the municipality would take PFARS’ current property on Harrision Street, which also includes two houses on Clearview Avenue. That parcel has been estimated to be worth about $1.5 million.

The agreement calls for the town to clean up the land on which the new headquarters would be built, at a cost of approximately $250,000. The municipality will act as the financing entity for PFARS. Resident Scott Sillars, who chairs the Citizens Finance Advisory Committee, told Council that while he supports the idea of getting PFARS a better facility, he has concerns about the financing. “I want to make sure none of this is happening until PFARS is getting their full funding,” he said. “I wouldn’t tear the building down till then.”

Resident Kip Cherry also raised concerns about the funding. “We’ve been through this before with the Arts Council and the pool,” she said. “We’re a wealthy community but it’s not that easy to raise money.”

Mark Freda, PFARS president, said the squad has funds on hand for an architect and other “soft costs,” and plans to hire a professional fundraiser for the project, which is estimated at about $6 million. PFARS had a fundraising feasibility study done before going forward with plans.

Council tabled adoption of the proposed 2014 Municipal Operating Budget until May 12, when a public hearing will be held. The budget, which includes amendment of some revenues that were previously not accounted for, is $59.2 million.

 

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These sidewalk artists at Sunday’s town/gown festival hark back to the original Communiversity, which began in 1974 as the Art People’s Party, then held on the grounds surrounding McCarter Theater, and dedicated in honor of Shakespeare’s birthday. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

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Susan Troost’s watercolor will be part of an exhibition at the Gourgaud Gallery, located in the Town Hall at 23-A North Main Street, Cranbury, from May 4 to 25 as part of a display of varied watercolors by the Four Seasons at Cranbury Art Group, which has been meeting twice monthly for eight years for watercolor classes taught by local artist, Russ Johnson. The artwork is for sale with 20 percent in support of the Cranbury Arts Council and its programs. There will be a reception Sunday, May 4, from 1 to 3 p.m. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the first, third, and last Sunday of the month, from 1 to 3 p.m. For more information, visit: www.cranburyartscouncil.org.

 

April 23, 2014
FOOD TRUCK FARE: Prospect Avenue will be filled with food trucks on Friday night as students welcome the community to TruckFest, a fundraiser for programs that feed the hungry both in town and throughout Mercer County. The menu will range from donuts to samosas.

FOOD TRUCK FARE: Prospect Avenue will be filled with food trucks on Friday night as students welcome the community to TruckFest, a fundraiser for programs that feed the hungry both in town and throughout Mercer County. The menu will range from donuts to samosas.

Most people don’t associate the stately mansions that house Princeton University’s eating clubs with the idea of hunger. But this elegant row on Prospect Avenue will be the setting Friday evening for a festival dedicated to helping those in and around the municipality who are “food insecure,” as the term is known.

The first-ever TruckFest, several months in the planning, will bring 11 food trucks and a variety of musical entertainment to Prospect Avenue from 6 to 9 p.m. Students from the Eating Clubs have partnered with the Pace Council for Civic Values and the Princeton Prospect Fund to stage the event, proceeds of which will go to the Trenton Soup Kitchen and Mercer Street Friends Food Bank. The whole community is invited.

“These trucks are not making any money,” said Justin Ziegler, a sophomore at the University. “We’re covering their expenses, but all the money from the event is going to charity. It’s really great that they’ve donated their time and are willing to do this.”

The trucks, which come from New York, Philadelphia, and New Jersey, serve everything from tacos to donuts to samosas and pizza. Hot dogs, cheesesteaks, curries, gourmet cupcakes, barbecue, wraps and vegetarian fare are also among the options. Entertainment is by musical acts Gorilla Gorilla and Caroline Reese and the Drifting Fifth.

According to Mercer Street Friends, one in eight students in the Princeton public schools are eligible for Send Hunger Packing, which provides free or reduced-price school lunches and food to take home on weekends. The eating clubs and the Pace Center have been partnering in recent years on community fundraisers geared only to students who were members of the clubs. “We wanted to have a social event that would bring the whole University and town community together around a really good cause,” Mr. Ziegler said. “So it would be fun, but also do something good.”

The event has the support of Mayor Liz Lempert. “A lot of people don’t realize there is a significant percentage of kids in our schools who are growing up hungry,” she said. “It’s great that there is a renewed effort of undergraduates to become more connected with the Princeton community while they’re here. There has always been a tradition of community service that stretches throughout the state and the country and the world, and it’s especially meaningful for students to make the connection locally and understand that there is a need here, and make a contribution.”

Mr. Ziegler, who is co-chairing the event with University senior Austin Sanders, said they are hoping for a large crowd. “We’re not exactly sure what to expect,” he said. “Food truck events with similar numbers of trucks have gotten anywhere from 5,000 to 15,000 people. We were estimating on the low end, so we’re thinking around 6,000. That’s still a lot. We’re expecting to sell out of food.”

Those who do show up will know that the money they spend on hot dogs, curries, and cupcakes will go to a good cause. “We’re really excited because most food truck events give only 20 percent to charity,” Mr. Ziegler said. “That’s the standard. But this is 100 percent, so I think that’s pretty awesome.”

 

On Saturday, April 26, from 5:30 to 11 p.m., SAVE, A Friend to Homeless Animals, is hosting its 14th Annual Gala Benefit, “It’s Reigning Cats and Dogs,” at the Princeton Airport. Cocktails and dinner, a live and silent auction, dancing, and a 50/50 raffle are on the agenda.

Proceeds from the party will support the shelter’s six core programs of Rescue, Shelter, Adoption, Health and Welfare, Spay/Neuter, and Humane Education. Corporate sponsors include 6800 Capital, Bloomberg, Callaway Henderson Sotheby’s International Realty, Church & Dwight Co., Inc., The Dittmar Agency, and Whole Earth Center.

Since 1941, SAVE has been dedicated to strengthening the human-animal bond. SAVE depends on the community at large to support the shelter’s dogs and cats. The organization strives to substantially reduce animal overpopulation and the corresponding euthanasia of adoptable and treatable animals.

For more information about SAVE, call (609) 924-3802.

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The Friendship Circle of Greater Mercer County is holding the second annual ‘Expo:Friendship‘ on Sunday, May 4 at Princeton Day School from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event benefits people with special needs and their families.

The Expo will include a special needs resource fair and exhibitors, a drop-off program for children with special needs, refreshments, and activities for the whole family. Admission is free but pre-registration is recommended.

Parents and caregivers are invited to attend special sessions. Hillary D. Freeman will present “Accessing Supports that Lead to Success.” Scott Leshin, founder and president of SJ Personal Healthcare Advocates, will speak on “Navigating the Health Insurance Bureaucracy.”

The ’Experience Dyslexia®’ simulation will give individuals a glimpse into the daily challenges of those with special needs. A “Pounds for Charity” fundraiser and “Art of Friendship” art show by those with special needs will also be part of the day.

For information about the Expo or to volunteer, visit www.ExpoFriendship.org.

D&R Greenway Land Trust invites the public to its annual Spring Native Plant Sale, held outside the Johnson Education Center on May 16 from 3 to 6 p.m., and May 17 9 a.m. to noon. D&R Greenway’s Native Plant Nursery is a community resource for locally sourced native plants that contribute to a healthy, biodiverse ecosystem.

The Nursery is located at One Preservation Place off Rosedale Road. No registration is required.

D&R Greenway’s plants are grown from genetically local seeds gathered on their preserves and tended in the nursery by staff and skilled volunteers. Plants grown from locally sourced plugs will also be available for purchase.

Native plants are adapted to central New Jersey’s weather conditions, making them more drought-resistant than most exotic plants, and also provide essential food for wildlife. Of particular concern are native pollinators such as bees and butterflies, which depend on native plant species to survive.

A famous example is the monarch butterfly, which is dependent on the milkweed plant for its life cycle. Milkweed is in decline across the United States, largely because of agricultural herbicides, and the monarch population has also taken a negative turn. Gardeners can help by planting milkweed on their property. Several varieties of milkweed are available in D&R Greenway’s nursery.

Plants are available in quart and gallon-sized pots from $5 to $12. A full catalog is available online at www.drgreenway.org/PlantCatalog.html.

Contact Emily Blackman, nursery manager, to check species availability at (609) 924-4646, or eblackman@drgreenway.org.

D&R Greenway’s Native Plant Nursery will offer summer plant sales every Friday, June 6 through August 29, 3 to 6 p.m. with the exception of holidays.

The 7th Annual NAMI Mercer Walk will take place Saturday, May 17 at 9 a.m. on the campus of the Educational Testing Service (ETS). NAMI Mercer, an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, will sponsor the event with the dual goals of fighting stigma and raising money to support its free programs for individuals and families affected by mental illness.

The spring walk-a-thon is NAMI Mercer’s largest community outreach activity and the organization’s greatest fundraiser. Over the past six years, the event has brought in more than $600,000 in individual and corporate donations. Otsuka America Pharmaceuticals is the Walk’s “Premiere” sponsor with many others, including The Times of Trenton, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the Honorable Joseph and Nancy Irenas, Mercer County Woman, and Alexander Road Associates. The goal this year is to raise $150,000.

Lawrence Township Mayor Cathleen Lewis will serve as an honorary chair along with Assemblyman Dan Benson of Legislative District 14; Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, and Senator Shirley Turner of District 15; and Assemblyman Jack Ciatarelli, Assemblywoman Donna Simon, and Senator Kip Bateman of District 16. Dr. Michelle Kramer, VP at Janssen Pharmaceuticals also will serve.

The event will feature a wellness fair, where local vendors will provide on-site health and wellness information and services to walk participants. Complimentary food and music will be available throughout the morning and into the early afternoon.

For more information about the walk and opportunities for volunteers, vendors, and sponsors, contact NAMI Mercer Director of Development Christine Bakter at (609) 799-8994 or cbakter@namimercer.org. Register to walk, form, or join a team, or make a donation at www.namiwalks.org/mercercounty.

Change is afoot at eateries along the west side of Witherspoon Street. The expansion of House of Cupcakes into the vacant former Ferry House, a new look for portions of the Alchemist & Barrister, and targeted late May or early June opening date for Mamoun’s Falafel in the former home of Princeton Mattress are among the improvements, openings, and alterations planned.

Behind the Alchemist & Barrister on Palmer Square, Teresa’s Caffe is installing outdoor seating. Accommodating eight to ten tables, the patio will open June 15. At 66 Witherspoon Street, the restaurant Mistral is enclosing its patio dining area by adding a roof and an outdoor fireplace. The projected opening for that space is the first week in May.

More imminent is the opening of Cafe Vienna, a European-style venue specializing in traditional Viennese cakes and coffees, across town at 200 Nassau Street, former home of The Piccadilly clothing shop. Owner Anita Waldenberger said Tuesday that she is expecting to have a certificate of occupancy “within a couple of days.” Originally projected to open last January, the cafe has been delayed due to winter weather, construction, and permits. “But the countdown is on,” she said.

It was only a month ago that a fire broke out in the basement of the House of Cupcakes at 30 Witherspoon Street, temporarily displacing residents of apartments upstairs and closing the bakery. But instead of derailing the business, the blaze has provided an opportunity for expansion. Owners Ron and Ruthie Bzdewka plan to reopen in the space that housed the Ferry House restaurant until it shut down last year. The space is directly next door and twice the size of the bakery.

“We were going back and forth, and weren’t sure if we were going to make the move,” Mr. Bzdewka said this week. “It’s double the size and a lot more rent. But I guess somebody upstairs made the decision for us.”

The added space allows the couple to expand their line. Mr. Bzdewka said he wasn’t ready to reveal exactly what the additions to the line will entail. “We’re still waiting for approval from the town. But I will say that we want to bring some things that are not in Princeton currently.” The bakery specializes in a variety of flavors of cupcakes, baking all on the premises.

While the former space had space for six to eight people to sit at a counter, the new location will allow several tables and chairs. “That alone will be a tremendous boost for us,” Mr. Bzdewka added. “And it’s a much better layout. It’s wider, not like a bowling alley as in the old place.”

House of Cupcakes opened in 2008 and has since branched out to include two corporate franchise stores in East Brunswick and the Bronx. Two more are planned in Wayne and Clifton. Depending on obtaining needed permits, the Bzdewkas hope to be installed at their new location in Princeton within a month or so with “a huge grand opening,” Mr. Bzdewka said.

On the other side of the shuttered House of Cupcakes store is The Alchemist & Barrister restaurant and pub, better known as the A&B. To mark its 40th anniversary, the restaurant is planning a major renovation that will include a revamped exterior, redesigned dining room, and additional bar.

“Our space won’t be getting any bigger, but the two front dining rooms, which really don’t have much personality, will be changed,” said Tom Yermack, the restaurant’s office manager. “Those two rooms facing Witherspoon will become one room, and we’ll build a big bar right in the middle. That will allow 50 taps of beer. We currently only have eight taps in the pub, but over the last five to ten years microbrews have become huge and we want to take advantage of that.”

Between May and December of last year, the A&B renovated its basement, removing walls to change three separate rooms into one large space. “It was all knocked down to ground zero, and now it’s one big room with a giant beer walk-in, which will support the bar that will be directly upstairs,” Mr. Yermack said.

From the outside, changes to the A&B will include two large sets of windows on the Witherspoon Street side of the restaurant. On the alley where the current entrance is located, the dining room windows will be replaced by three sets of French doors. A performance area for musical entertainment will be built into the new space, said Mr. Yermack, who in addition to his restaurant duties is a musician and member of The Blue Meanies group.

The pub and patio will stay the same. “They seem to be the most popular areas of the A&B, and we’re trying to recreate that feel with the new bar,” he added. “It will be a new, more homey place. The dining room now doesn’t have much character, and we want to change that.”

 

An explosion on Thursday evening, April 10, in a patient’s room on the third floor of the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro (UMCPP) seriously injured a female staff member. The patient and a visitor were treated for smoke inhalation. The visitor was held briefly for observation and then released. 

UMCPP’s automatic fire alarm was sounded at the Plainsboro Fire Company, Station 49 at 8:52 p.m. While en route, Plainsboro police advised firefighters that they had received reports of a fire in a patient room and an explosion. First arriving units found a haze of smoke and evidence that an explosion had occurred. A small fire in paper products was quickly extinguished.

Units from Kingston, Monmouth Junction, Kendall Park, Princeton, and Princeton Junction also responded along, with the unit from the Plasma Physics Lab at Princeton University.

According to a statement released at the scene by hospital officials, 18 patients in the immediate area of the explosion were moved to other floors of the hospital as a precautionary measure. The hospital continued to operate throughout the incident.

A statement from the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s office, the day after the blast, which is believed to have been accidental, reported that the explosion occurred at approximately 8:50 p.m.

The cause of the explosion and the fire that followed is being investigated by the Middlesex County Fire Investigation Unit and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. It is thought to have been related to an oxygen tank but as yet there has been no explanation as to cause.

Requests for an update on the investigation’s progress from the Middlesex Prosecutor’s office were not fulfilled by today’s Town Topics deadline.

The staff member, whose name is not being released at the request of her family, was found to be seriously injured and later transferred by helicopter to the Burn Unit at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, the sole state-certified burn treatment facility in New Jersey. One of the largest in North America, it treats more than 400 patients each year.

The injured worker, reportedly a nursing assistant, was first listed in critical condition. As of yesterday, her condition was described as “stable,” according to the website created to elicit funding to aid in her recovery. Set up by a fellow staffer at the hospital, the online fund at Go Fund Me (www.gofundme.com/897clc) has, so far, gathered contributions of over $16,000.

“Our first priority has been the welfare of our colleague who was so badly hurt, and our employee assistance program is working to address the emotional well-being of all employees who were affected by the incident,” said Barry S. Rabner, president and CEO of Princeton HealthCare System, yesterday.

“In addition to working with local municipal, state, and federal bodies, we are working internally with ECRI experts, who evaluate accidents like this,” said Mr. Rabner. ECRI (formerly the Emergency Care Research Institute) is an independent nonprofit agency that researches ways of improving safety and quality of patient care.

Since this statement from Princeton HealthCare System (www.princetonhcs.org/phcs-home/whats-happening/phcs-news–information/media-inquiries.aspx#sthash.01jUugja.dpuf), the hospital has not released further details about the staff member or the incident.

Kathleen Ryan, director of Nursing and Peri-op Services at the Medical Center, describes the powerful emotions that followed the incident. Her letter to the editor is on page 13 with one from Mr. Rabner.